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In April 2022, Het Nieuwe Instituut became the world’s first official Zoöp. A Zoöp is an organisation in which people and non-humans like plants and animals can work together on an equal basis to create a resilient environment that is good for all life. This is reflected in the New Garden. From 16 March to 11 December, 2022, students from the ArtScience Interfaculty (a collaboration between the Royal Academy of Art and the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague) will observe and research the development of the New Garden. If you look carefully, you can see various instruments for this that they have placed in the garden.


Soil forms the top layer of Earth’s crust. Animals, plants, microbes and minerals come together in the soil. Their balance can easily be disturbed, for example by rigorous plowing or the use of fertiliser. Healthy soil is essential for all life on Earth. It can take hundreds of years for an inch of good soil to form. Yet a year is all it can take for soil to disappear due to erosion. Grasses and nettles do well in nutrient-rich soil. Nutrient-poor soil is more porous and gives flowering vegetation more of a chance. This increases the biodiversity of insects and other animals. In the New Garden, the soil dates back to the time of the Land van Hoboken, a green polder area that was located on this site until 1924. Nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor soil are both present.

ArtScience student Leon Lapa Pereira: “I am observing both the spatial environment above ground and the sonic space underground. A ‘geophone’ registers the vibrations in the soil, which allows me to detect human and non-human rhythms. The changes from winter to autumn, from empty to full and from brown to green become visible.”


Mycelium is a network of fungal threads from which mushrooms can grow. Mycelia are important for a good soil culture. They break down organic material which in turn becomes food. Almost all plants interact with fungi underground. The hyphae (threads) are also an important food source for insects. Designers and architects have been experimenting with mycelium as an ecological building material for several years now. ArtScience student Christine Huid: “With sensors that consist partly of mycelium and partly of electronics, I listen to wave frequencies – invisible and inaudible to humans – that tell us about the behaviour of other living beings.”


There is much more in the air than can be seen with the naked eye. From May to July, for example, countless pollen grains float through the air. The pollen produced by plants and flowers is essential for their reproduction, although highly annoying for people with hay fever.

ArtScience student Vivien Vuong: “What does it mean to ‘feel’ the air and what can we learn from the continuous change of this medium? I investigate what the wind carries and touches: smells, gases, pheromones, dust, microplastics, pollen, spores, other bioaerosols, mosses, trees and lichens.”


Bats live in the New Garden. They are natural bug controllers. Every night they eat at least a quarter of their body weight in mosquitoes, moths, spiders and other insects. In the bat boxes, bats can hang upside down to sleep. The cabinets hang in a quiet place in the sun because bats love warmth. The opening of the boxes is smaller than 1.5cm so that birds cannot fly in.


The compost heap forms a special biotope in which all kinds of life are present. The organic pruning waste is collected here and broken down by fungi and bacteria. It’s a process that uses oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, water and heat. What remains is a crumbly substance that is used by us humans as fertiliser for the garden.

10/05/2015 – 31/12/2022

Outside Het Nieuwe Instituut

Tuesday — Saturday
10.00 — 17.00

Sundays and national holidays
11.00 — 17.00

The New Garden
Frank Bruggeman and Hans Engelbrecht
Karlis Krecers

This project is part of the programme track Landscape and Interior and the folder Museumpark.

The New Garden combines nature and culture on the grounds of Het Nieuwe Instituut. The temporary landscape by artist/designer Frank Bruggeman and gardener Hans Engelbrecht reflects a growing interest in urban nature.